2014 NFL Draft Vikings Table
Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

The NFL Combine is officially over and we are just a couple weeks away from the official start of the 2015 Season. Mock Drafts from most of the VT Team have been published and post-Combine updates are likely around the corner. Followed by pre-free agency mock drafts which will then be succeeded by post-free agency mock drafts that are then… Well, you get the picture.

But first, over the next couple of days, we are going to feature the mock drafts of a couple of individuals we really appreciate around these parts. The first is from Luke Inman of eDraft.com who you may have heard a couple times on the Purple FTW! podcast. I had the pleasure of meeting Luke last year at Vikings Training camp. The only thing more impressive than the depth of Luke’s football knowledge is his up-beat personality and character. Seriously, the guy is a treat to be around.

Luke’s first round mock draft below features a ton of in-depth analysis and provides a very detailed breakdown of the Vikings selection at 11. Check out the first five picks below and then continue reading for the entire first round.

 Tampa Bay Logo
1. Tampa Bay (2-14) // Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

He’s been my number one player here since this process started and now at the combine we’re starting to see what makes him so good. Winston is a pocket passer who will beat you from the neck up and has a live arm to go with the mental intangibles. Truly one of the better diagnosers of the game that we’ve seen at the position in some time, its just a shame people are only finding out about it now, mainly because of his off the field issues that overshadowed his game. Winston isn’t just a piece to an offense, he is the offense. As long as the maturity issues have been put to bed, Winston is a guy you can build your franchise around. He gets to stay home in the state of Florida where he lands in a cush spot with young emerging talent all around him (Mike Evans, Austin Jenkins, Charles Sims) on top of a proven veteran coach in Lovie Smith, something that’s foreign for most number one picks that are typically that building block to start scratch from.

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 2. Tennessee (2-14) // Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Zach Mettenberger? This guy ain’t buying it. The Heisman trophy winner Mariota is the more ultra-athletic of the two which will add an exciting extra wrinkle into whatever offense he plays for. The former Oregon Duck will translate that elite athleticism into a smooth dropback passer under center, however I still worry about his pocket presence and how he will adjust to the speed in the NFL. Still, the upside of having a potential franchise quarterback is worth the risk for this franchise in the long run, over a blue-chip defensive player who isn’t guaranteed to help this team get over the hump. A trade down would be the best solution if they truly are comfortable with Mettenberger, meaning either way I think Mariota is the second player off the board on Draft Day because of the position he plays. In this league the first rule of Fight Club is you can’t win without a quarterback.

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3.  Jacksonville (3-13) // Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Randy Gregory was my pick here a week ago and I loved it, but now along with many other people I’m overly concerned with the weight Gregory showed up to the Combine at and where he fits in the NFL. Williams might be the better pick from the get-go anyways with his ability to line up up-and-down the defensive line. Williams carries the massive size to hold linemen up at the point of attack, as well as the athleticism to penetrate into the backfield. At the end of the day it’s Williams’ versatility to line up in multiple fronts that will allow Gus Bradley to finally open up his exotic defensive playbook and maximize his front-seven’s potential.

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 4. Oakland (3-13) // Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The hottest thing since the internet, Kevin White hushed any critics he had left after he proved that he has the deep speed with a ridiculous 4.35 40-time to go with his 6’3” 215 pound frame. A tough matchup doesn’t come close to describing White one-on-one with his defender as he has the strong body control and hands to pluck the ball out of the air in even the most difficult contested balls. Hope Derek Carr wasn’t listening because we want him to be surprised when he sees his new shiny toy under the Christmas tree.

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 5. Washington (4-12) // Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

After becoming one of the most dominating pass rushers in college football last season, Gregory has me worried after showing up to the Combine a putrid 218 pounds. This raises serious questions about how he will transition into the NFL and just where exactly he will be forced to play. While I’ve had him as a traditional 4-3 defensive end for the majority of my scouting, now Gregory has forced people to view him as a edge rushing linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and nothing more. Of course there is still plenty of time for him to get back into the 235-245 range where he will have to play in order to achieve the things that will be asked of him by his team. Even with the sudden red flags Gregory still has one of the best pass rushing tapes of the 2014 season with a remarkable “get off” off the snap making it tough to pass on him, especially with the expected loss of linebacker Brian Orakpo to free agency. Gregory adds a big piece into making this defensive unit a legitimate threat that’s going to start commanding some serious respect soon.

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 6. New York Jets (4-12) // Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

At first glance, this seems like one of the worst scenarios for the Jets to be in with the only two noteworthy quarterbacks off the board. However, Cooper is one of the most polished wideouts to come out of the Draft since A.J. Green and, while their qualities aren’t similar, Cooper has the attributes to come in and have instant success at the next level. While Cooper’s 4.43 40-yard dash does a good job of representing his speed I saw on tape, what it doesn’t show you is how crisp and precise his route running is. Not necessarily the sexiest thing to discuss, especially during Combine week, however its Cooper’s routes and football IQ that separate him from the rest of his peers. While Kevin White leap-frogged in front of him here based off his potential, Cooper is widely known as the safest receiver pick there is. Getting whoever is playing quarterback for the Jets a weapon needs to be a priory and Cooper fits that bill. When you think Cooper, think a newer version of Reggie Wayne.

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 7. Chicago (5-11) // Dante Fowler, Edge Rusher, Florida

I had Danny Shelton here for the Bears as they transition into the 3-4 and could find the centerpiece to their defensive front, however, now I’m starting to think I overvalued Shelton and just how good his skillset actually is. On the other hand, there’s no denying Fowler’s skillset equates to explosive off the ball combined with a plethora of pass rushing moves. The Bears need a makeover on defense and Fowler is a safe and sexy pick that adds a dynamic player into the front seven. In a “deeper than the Pacific” draft class of edge rushers, Fowler has the most complete game top to bottom.

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 8. Atlanta (6-10) // Shane Ray, LB, Mizzou

It’s not a secret that Atlanta needs a pass rusher (or five). Ray is one of the best natural edge players in the Draft as his pedigree from Missouri (or “pass rushing U”) showcases. The Falcons wisely upgraded their offensive line with blue-chip tackle Jake Mathews last year, allowing them to take the best available at their biggest position of need.

 New York Giants Logo
 9. New York Giants (6-10) // TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Clemmings did not live up to the hype during the Senior Bowl, but still the fact remains he has the most raw physical talent and ability (played defensive end just two years ago) over any one of his peers. That physical prowess has been on display this week at the Combine as its apparent during drills he has the fluidity and quick feet to be a star in this league. The Giants go copycat after watching the success their rival the Dallas Cowboys had after investing heavily into their offensive line. Now, with Clemmings, Justin Pugh, and last year’s second rounder Weston Richburg the Giants have a powerful unit for the offense to go through. People don’t understand how critical an extra tenth of a second is for a pure pocket passer like Eli Manning and a pick like this will help showcase that after seeing the improvement he has.

 St. Louis Rams Logo
 10. St. Louis (6-10) // La’el Collins, OT, LSU

You would think after spending the second overall pick on an offensive lineman last year that the Rams could look elsewhere in the first round in 2015. Think again. Just one look at the Rams depth chart had me spitting milk out through my nose like Millhouse on a cafeteria date with Lisa. Collins was one of the biggest winners of not just his group, but throughout the whole Combine after he displayed a rare and unique blend of size, light feet, and movement skills. Already a top-tier guy in my book, Collins only solidified that he will be one of the top three offensive linemen taken and a top-15 pick in what I’m predicting will be a very good draft for the position during Day One.

 Minnesota Vikings Logo
 11. Minnesota (7-9) // Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa

This is where things get fun and interesting, as I predict you will start to see teams moving up and down, starting here at pick 11. Rick Spielman has a deep-rooted history of trading back in the first round (only to eventually trade back up) and has already gone on record saying he wants a total of ten picks when its all said and done. From a pure strategic standpoint I can’t think of any better way to reach full value with their selection than to garnish more picks before handing in the card. The way my big board is laid out now, picks 11 and 20 are virtually the same guy, meaning the way the depth of this Draft is set up would allow a team to move down and still take a player of the same value.

Saying all that, at the end of the night Brandon Scherff fits everything the Vikings want, need, and covet. Known as the safest lineman in this class, Scherff was the Outland trophy winner given to the nation’s top lineman (Aaron Donald received the award last year), and is also regarded as the best run blocker among his peers. Scherff fills a huge void left by the incompetent Charlie Johnson at left guard, turning a negative into a positive and giving the Vikings some real talent on the interior of their line (something that stood out to me as a huge need when playing Suh, Fairley, and the Detroit Lions this past season).

While Scherff (much like last years first rounder Zach Martin) will thrive and excel inside at left guard where he has immediate pro-bowl potential, he also has the talent and ability to swing out to left tackle providing the team a much needed insurance policy for the ever inconsistent Matt Kalil.

Vikings fans need to keep one thing in the forefront of their minds as this offseason starts to pick up steam and that is the progression of Teddy Bridgewater needs to, and will be this team’s first and foremost priority. It doesn’t take NFL network analysis to see that one of the most obvious and glaring things that held Bridgewater back in 2014 was the horrendously inconsistent offensive line play. And while the sexy pick here is a wideout, such as Teddy’s old teammate Devante Parker, my problem with that is the numbers. As in the team already has an emerging star in Charles Johnson who showed huge potential as the season progressed that will undoubtedly receive the lion’s share of snaps as they want to continue his development. The crafty veteran (who doesn’t get enough credit, in my opinion) who is an excellent number two receiver and as consistent as they come in regards to route running, reliable hands, and team leadership. Not to mention his hefty contract which will all but guarantee him plenty of snaps and playing time once again. And, of course, first round pick Cordarrelle Patterson is entering the crucial third-year in his young career, which is known for being the “breakout” year for wide receivers. These three, plus slot man Jarius Wright, and you can see where I have trouble finding a spot for another first-round wide out. All these factors equate into why Brandon Scherff is the right pick here for the Vikings for both the short and long term plans, not to mention he is the epitome of Rick Spielman’s philosophy, which is to say he’s the best player on the board.

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 12. Cleveland (7-9) // Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

This position was a need before the Josh Gordon suspension. While they may have to trade up for him, the Browns would be thrilled to land any one of the “big three” wide receivers in this year’s Draft. Each one has their own unique skillset and Parker’s involves his 80” wingspan and his ability to pluck the ball out of the air and away from his defenders. While he is a dangerous deep threat, Parker is also a weapon after the catch showing off a good blend of shiftiness and acceleration. Parker steps into the number one wideout role the day he steps foot in Cleveland.

 New Orleans Saints Logo Censored
 13. New Orleans (7-9) // Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Defensive toys are needed for Rob Ryan and starting at the front and center of the defense would be a wise change of pace, unlike the past where adding safeties like Jarius Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro to fix the majority of problems was the poor attempted solution. Shelton is a mammoth of a man at 6’1” and nearly 350 pounds, but his athletic ability and movement skills for a dude that big are what makes him so special. Being compared to Haloti Ngata and Dontarie Poe is a bit optimistic, yet the potential to be a dominant lineman is there and will add a crucial element of versatility to Ryan’s defense that Saints fans are still waiting for.

 Miami Dolphins Logo
 14. Miami (8-8) // Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

The Dolphins wisely continue their new trend of building through the trenches this time on the defensive side of the ball. Brown is still a bit of an unknown to the mainstream fan, but inside draft circles he is one of the biggest risers out there. I don’t know what it is about the new wave of athletes but Brown is another big bodied lineman at 6’4”, 320 pounds that can move extremely well for his size, often one of the first guys off the ball at the snap. A stout run defender with his massive size and strength with just enough hand and feet agility to get into the backfield, Brown will be a key addition into a Dolphins front-seven that’s been one or two pieces away for far too long.

 San Francisco 49ers Logo
 15. San Francisco (8-8) // Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Not the sexy pick, but 49ers could lose both Cox and Culliver in free agency. Waynes is the consensus number one cornerback prospect and will add to a young core of defensive talent to build around for years to come in the secondary when paired up with young and emerging safety Eric Reid. Waynes is long. and although he doesn’t have the weight at just 186, he plays with a tough mentality and a strong-minded will to beat his opponent in man coverage with his football intelligence.

 Houston Texans Logo
 16. Houston (9-7) // Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

The run on offensive lineman continues with Flowers being the fifth off the board in the top 16 picks. Flowers’ stock continues to point upwards as teams are finding out more about his combination of strength and footwork, and the untapped potential lying in between the pads. The Texans could go one of a handful of different positions here, but with Derek Newton a free agent they’d be wise to add a talent like Flowers now before its too late.

 San Diego Chargers Logo
 17. San Diego (9-7) // Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

In a rare combination of talent and depth at the running back position (the likes of which we haven’t seen in a decade), Gurley is the best of the bunch and it’s not even close. Gurley is a top-5 talent had it not been for a torn ACL. Still, the Georgia tailback displays an incredible ability to break tackles before and at the line of scrimmage using balance and strength. Gurley uses his incredible vision and acceleration from that point to reach the second and third levels of the defense. A home-run threat on any given play, Gurley is a guy you want to touch the ball 20 times a game. (Music to Phillip River’s ears as he hopes the addition of the first legitimate running back in San Diego since LaDamian Tomlinson will add a few more years to his career.) Of course, this is assuming Gurley’s surgically repaired knee checks out okay.

 Kansas City Chiefs Logo
 18. Kansas City (9-7) // Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan

KC receivers didn’t catch a single touchdown in 2014. Funchess is that big-body receiver that could team up with Travis Kelce to create a dynamic duo that will demand attention and give Jamaal Charles some breathing room. Even with an average combine and poor 40 time (4.70) Funchess’ size and ability to create mismatches is what will entice a team to pull the trigger earlier than most people think. Dorial Green-Beckham’s off-the-field issues are a lot for a team to swallow when talking about a first round pick.

 Cleveland Browns Logo
 19. Cleveland – from Buffalo (9-7) // Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

“Zero to Hero” sums up the Browns receivers after this draft. This team cannot go on any longer with Josh Gordon’s charades. And behind him on the depth chart might as well be Shirley Temple, Paul from the Wonder Years, and Casper the Friendly (but unathletic) Ghost. One look at Coates at the Senior Bowl and I was sold on the raw ability and developmental talent.

 Philadelphia Eagles Logo
 20. Philadelphia (10-6) // Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Do we even need to look at the Eagles safety play the past few seasons? Collins is the consensus number one safety and, while he has flaws in coverage, he will help give the Eagles defense a physical presence they’ve been missing since Brian Dawkins left.

 Cincinnati Bengals Logo
 21. Cincinnati (10-5-1) // Vic Beasley, Edge Rusher, Clemson

Cincinnati will likely be praying Collins falls to them. Here, he doesn’t, and the Bengals are forced to grab the best pass rusher left on the board. Beasley was being discussed as a top-5 pick before the 2014 Draft. While he may not fit this defense to a “T,” I have faith coach Lewis will maximize his strengths and get this team back to a respectable standing in sacks.

 Pittsburgh Steelers Logo
 22. Pittsburgh (11-5) // Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Giving Mike Tomlin a player like Marcus Peters to mold in his aggressive defense just isn’t fair. Peters, who is the top corner on many boards, would be a top-10 pick had it not been for his dismissal from the Washington Huskies for fighting a coach. A big, strong player who plays with an attitude, Peters will fit right in and start day one in a depleted secondary desperate for help.

 Detroit Lions Logo
 23. Detroit (11-5) // Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Can you imagine? Gordon walking into the second and third levels of the defense until they throw their hands up in defeat and are forced to take that extra defender off of Calvin Johnson and return him to the box. Matthew Stafford and Megatron have never had an all-around running back that is consistent and explosive enough to demand extra attention. The thought alone of Johnson receiving “normal” coverage even for half of a game is enough to send fantasy owners into their own Mardi Gras block party.

 Arizona Cardinals Logo
 24. Arizona (11-5) // Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

Thompson excelled on offense and defense for the Huskies, but is ultimately best-suited at linebacker where he showcases the instincts and reaction skills necessary to thrive. Knocked for his small build, Thompson has the history and ability to move to strong safety.

 Carolina Panthers Logo
 25. Carolina (7-8-1) // Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

What seems like a dark, sick, and twisted joke turns out to just be the Panthers depth chart, on which Mike Remmers is listed as their starting right tackle. Luckily for them, there is still top talent remaining on the board in Peat who has the NFL size (6’7” 315 pounds) to go with the long arms and good balance. He has also has the resume to match, having started every game at left tackle over the past two seasons. Peat is another product of the Stanford Cardinal program, which is gaining a reputation of churning out NFL-ready offensive lineman. While another receiver to pair with Kelvin Benjamin would be fun and a potential number one cornerback is a definite need, the Panthers offensive line troubles need to be first priority.

 Baltimore Ravens Logo
 26. Baltimore (10-6) // Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri

Beckham is talked about as the riskiest prospect for good reason. A boom-or-bust prospect in every sense of the term, Beckham showcases the physicality (6’6” 230) that teams will crave, just to get him into one-on-one matchups to showcase speed and high-pointing ability that we haven’t seen since Calvin Johnson came along. His off-the-field issues are more than a concern however, as he has a troubling past that I assure you many teams will not be able to get past, consequently taking him off their boards altogether. However, there aren’t many better at the draft game then the legend Ozzie Newsome. If his due diligence checks out on Beckham, then it’s all systems go on what would be one of the newest and most dangerous connections in the league: Joe Flacco’s deep ball and Beckham’s playmaking ability.

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 27. Dallas (12-4) // PJ Williams, CB, FSU

Jerry learned the hard way that his secondary still can’t hang with Aaron Rodgers and the big boys. Williams can’t fix it all, but will start from day-one and add talent and depth to a position of need. Free agency will have a huge impact on this team’s needs, specifically running back and receiver (Murray and Bryant). But adding talent into the secondary will be a top priority regardless, and not many carry the skillset like PJ does. I really like an interior defensive lineman here, like Oklahoma’s Jordan Phillips.

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 28. Denver (12-4) // Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

My crystal ball tells me Julius Thomas is wearing silver and black next season, which means Peyton needs a new toy to play with at the tight end position. Williams is a rare breed that doesn’t come around often, displaying incredible athleticism, movement skills, and a natural catching ability. I can see it now, Manning and Williams staying after practice to get their timing down while humming the Nation Wide commercial jingle. It’s how championships are built.

 Indianapolis Colts Logo
 29. Indianapolis (11-5) // Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

Where do these guys come from? Is it something in the water — is this what all those food documentaries are about? A behemoth of a human, Phillips is 6’6”, 335 pounds, and has a ridiculous amount of athleticism and movement skills for a man that large. Get to know this name, because I promise you, Phillips will soon be rising up draft boards. For now, he gives the Colts a physicality at the interior of their defense, something they’ve been missing for years now. The Colts just need to build a respectable defense, and Luck will take care of the rest.

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 30. Green Bay (12-4) // Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon

Well, we know they go defense here, but where exactly is tough to pinpoint. With linebacker not a pressing need and Casey Hayward on his way back to a starting cornerback spot, it’s defensive tackle that becomes the most urgent area for improvement. BJ Raji is set to become a free agent, and Letroy Guion is in jail. Armstead is more potential than production right now, but he measures in at a towering 6’7”, 292 pounds with a frame that tells you there is room for more. His size and strength enable Armstead to excel against the run right now, but he is still learning to refine his skills in the passing game. Armstead has the ability to be lined up at more than one position (which Ted Thompson covets), and is just scratching the surface of how good he could be in two to three years.

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 31. Seattle (12-4) // Erik Kendricks, LB, UCLA

The Seahawks are working to sign Beastmode to a deal that would both keep him around, and take the position of running back off their list of offseason needs. However, their linebacking unit is going to take a massive hit after free agents leave town. I love Kendricks’ sideline-to-sideline ability coupled with his exuberance and play-making mentality. With NFL bloodlines (his brother is an Eagles linebacker) and good football intelligence, Kendricks is primed to step onto the field and contribute right away.

 New England Patriots
 32. New England (12-4) // Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

Don’t try to figure out these guys and how they draft because I’m not even sure they know half of the time. But hey, another Lombardi trophy on the mantel, so something’s obviously working. Super Bowl winners typically don’t have many glaring holes or pressing needs, and this unit isn’t much different. While they’ve had god-awful luck drafting receivers, it would probably behoove them to take another crack at it. I have Bill planning ahead and taking a physically gifted cornerback that he can mold into a starter in preparation for the time when they can’t pay both Revis Island and Brandon Browner. At nearly 6’2” with long arms, Collins is the prototypical cornerback of the next generation.

Luke Inman is a team member of eDraft.com whose work can be found here. Luke can also be followed on Twitter.